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Powell Briefing on Board Plane En Route Brussels

Office of the Spokesman
December 5, 2001

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Press Briefing on Board Plane En Route Brussels

December 5, 2001

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know if you heard about the blue on blue incident we had in Afghanistan where one of our bombs hit a special forces unit and we lost some kids, maybe a dozen or so wounded and some Afghans, one of those unfortunate accidents that happen in war.

QUESTION: You don't know what happened?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I just know that it was something went wrong in one of the missiles or bombs. Whatever it was, I don't have the details. You can get that from the Pentagon. I just didn't know if you'd heard.

I might say that I thought that the Turkish stop was quite good. We were able to talk about ESDP, and to see some movement in Cyprus, two things that have been sort of just lingering there for a long period of time, and I was glad that we had progress on both of them. With Cyprus it's just the beginning, but at least we have got the two gentlemen talking to one another again and suddenly things are happening rapidly. Not just the first meeting, but they are having dinner tonight and they have already set the second meeting in January. So that's a bit of progress. Hopefully that will keep moving along.

In Brussels, we'll have to do a little more work on ESDP, and I expect to be talking to my Greek colleague and my British colleague and the others to see if there's anything else that we can do usefully to move that along quickly. The principal subject, we talked about a lot of principal subjects, but one that I was particularly interested in once again was trade, very interested in getting textile quota relief, and they are very anxious to show that they are going to take aggressive action to reform and to restructure their economy and their spending plans and everything else, in order to get the economy moving more effectively now that they've been given a bit of a breather by the IMF. Long talks about Afghanistan, Iraq, the situation in the Caucasus, and central Asia. You heard Foreign Minister Cem give you a pretty comprehensive rundown of all of that.

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On Afghanistan, I might mention that I'm very pleased with the outcome in Bonn, when you think about where we were two and a half weeks ago... "Where to hold it? Shall we go to Berlin? Shall we go to Abu Dhabi? Shall we go to Kabul? Shall we go to Bonn? Are we moving fast enough? Can they possibly do this? Will the Northern Alliance stop it? What's going on?" And in rather short order, by international negotiating standards, they've come up with an interim administration that has a chairman. I think there are two women in the government, one serving as one of the vice-chairmen and another one serving as a cabinet minister. That is quite encouraging and to realize that all of the parties came together under UN auspices with the understanding that fellas, we all have to get together and find something that represents everybody. And with Mr. Karzai, a Pashtun from the south, even though it's the Northern Alliance that did the heavy fighting, this seems to me to be a sign of considerable progress and recognition that if they don't want to miss this new opportunity, they really do have to cooperate.

I have to give credit to the UN, to Mr. Brahimi, who has persevered in this, and a special, special word of congratulations to our man, Jim Dobbins, who was sent over initially, as you recall, to be my guy in the region, our guy in the region, not knowing what Jim might do. He bounced around from Tashkent to Islamabad, back and forth, and then suddenly we're off to Bonn. And Jim met with all of the other delegations there, he was in close touch with the Russians, he met with the Iranians, to keep all of the six together on this, and I think he did a rather outstanding job and is deserving of some mention in your various reports.

QUESTION: What's he doing next? Is he going back to the area?

SECRETARY POWELL: I've got to find another, well, let me think ... No, Jim will be going back with the interim administration. So, I'm going to keep Jim on the account for the foreseeable future and I would expect you will see him in downtown Kabul.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the role the United States played behind the scenes, what we did specifically, and secondly when you said today, the real work lies ahead, what issues you see?

SECRETARY POWELL: We've been actively engaged in pulling this process together with the UN from the very beginning. A lot of people get credit for it. Russia, Iran played a constructive role, and we pressed hard for an interim government because we could see that with the Rome group, the Peshawar group, the Cyprus group, and the group in Turkey, all of these groups ... if we waited for them all to assemble in some large mass and then see if they were going to have girgas and loya girgas we weren't going to get there.

So we pressed and Mr. Brahimi pressed, for getting something on the ground quickly. So let's form an interim administration or provisional government, something that would be on the ground that we could connect to, and could start the work of rebuilding and then over time, we could expand that into a more representative administration and then also go to elections. But I wasn't even thinking about elections when we started this, and here they've popped out with a schedule for elections. It's quite remarkable. And so to answer the question, we've been behind the scenes and in front of the scenes on stage working it from day one, and my staff, and here we went over two parts of the department with EUR active on the Bonn end of it and with the South Asia Bureau active on the other side. Two of my outstanding female assistant secretaries of State. But the staffs have done a good piece of work, well-coordinated within the administration.

The President has been involved in it every single day. You all know we meet every morning and this has always been an item for discussion every morning - how is this going? You may recall also that we went to the UN three weekends ago? At the Six-Plus-Two my charge to them was: speed, speed, speed. And, that's what we have seen. I'm very pleased.

QUESTION: And the second half of my question about the real work?

SECRETARY POWELL: The real work does begin. Because sending a group of twenty or twenty-five people back into a city that is there but that's all and you drop them down and say, fine, get going. Well, how do you connect to the water supply company? How do you start putting in place instruments of government? What administration exists? How do you bring back ex-patriots or members of the diaspora who have skills? How do you integrate them into a government? How do you now expand this to a more representative government? How do you get the roads cleared? I mean, there's a lot that has to be done other than just twenty-five people showing up and saying, "Oh, well, we're the new government."

But perhaps there is more to work on than you might think at first blush. There are a number of qualified people outside of Afghanistan who are Afghans who want to come back in. They're educated. I met some of them at my Iftaar last week. So there are people who have skills. The UN has an inventory of them. And so we might see progress quickly. But nevertheless there's a lot of work to be done. How does this government connect in to the humanitarian effort of the United Nations? How will this government connect in to the peacekeeping force that they have asked for? Under what charter will that peacekeeping force be operating? Who will command it? So, there's a lot of work that has to be done.

But the one thing they are also going back to Kabul with is, no money. And so, how do you find money for this outfit. I just talked with Rich Armitage who has sent a net call out to all of our embassies, you know, pass the plate, please, we need some money to get these folks started. That's going to be tricky, because you want to make sure the money is used for the right purposes. You just don't give it to twenty-five people. Who's the comptroller? Who's the OMB? Who's the GAO? All of the things that go along with governing a country of that size and that many people that is devastated. And so, there's a lot of work to be done and we're in it for the long ride, but I think the burden of it will fall on the wonderful UN organizations and non-governmental and non-profit organizations that have always maintained a connection with Afghanistan.

One of the things that came out of the meeting in Turkey at our lunch, Prime Minister Cem, was saying to me that some of his other colleagues at the table, that they go back to the early 20's with Afghanistan. And there is still, I think they said, there was a hospital in Afghanistan called the Ataturk Hospital. They never changed the name of it, even during the days of the Taliban. And so, they have a lot of connections with Afghanistan. Kemal Ataturk saw Afghanistan as another perhaps manifestation of the Turkish model of development. He saw that as early as the early 20's. And so there's that history and linkage to Turkish thinking. So we immediately started thinking about that, about what kind of a contribution Turkey could make. And they've offered troops and those troops when they get it glued together will be very helpful.

So there are a lot of pieces out there that have to be drawn together and a lot of work that will have to be done and it has to be done by the international community and done in a way that the six surrounding nations all feel that their interest and equity have been protected, that not one of them claiming some dominant role in this new Afghanistan. A lot of work to be done. Is that enough Robin? Yes? Say yes, Robin.


QUESTION: Would you be ready to spark this debate in the national security (inaudible) of Afghanistan to provide American troops? And how does that work about getting some (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: That is the next subject for serious discussion. Does it need a UN resolution? Does the existing resolution have enough authority in it? I'll be having conversations with my European colleagues tomorrow. The British have expressed an interest, the Germans have expressed interest, the French to a lesser extent. There is a lot of contributing countries, the Bangladeshis, Indonesians, they all want to be in the alliance and be a part of it. Now, I'm coming. I always, I circle but I eventually land (laughter) sometimes. Sometimes I just buzz and take off again. (laughter)

For the foreseeable future, our mission is not finished. General Franks will continue to pursue al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden and do what has to be done with the Taliban. So, American military commanders and American military presence will be there until that mission is finished. As peacekeepers arrive, there will be a function of where General Franks is in his work, as to how they get integrated in. As you know, more Americans are going in. The Marines are in, and there may be other forces going in. They are focusing on principal mission of al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden and the Taliban.

I think there will come a time when we want to pass this off, whatever military presence is in Afghanistan, pass it off to a coalition of the willing, led by a member of that coalition of the willing. Who that is, is not getting determined. And that will be a subject of considerable discussion with my friends. I do not expect it to be an American led operation.

QUESTION: Will it end up like in Kosovo, where the military ended up doing civil duties like garbage collection and law enforcement? Can you envision a time when the military will be doing these civic functions until the government takes over?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think that is what is anticipated. One of the discussions we had the Turks and will have to have with other coalition friends is, what is this force going in for? It is going into Kabul. What for? Is it going to be performing security functions, patrolling the streets? But, they don't seem to need people patrolling the streets. So, is it just going to be a force in readiness, in case security problems break out somewhere. Or will it be a force that begins to secure areas that are having difficulty getting humanitarian aid in? The mission of this force is still being worked out, but I think what the interim administration had in mind, and what I have had in mind, is that it will be useful to have some force, some organized force in the country, that is able to respond to whatever missions might come along. I do not anticipate, once again, we're structuring the mission, but it would seems to me, we are not going to go so far, they would not go so far as to picking up garbage and performing civil functions. It is not as if in Kosovo, where you had a inter-positional force keeping two people from each other, that kind of a thing. It seems like these people are quite willing to work with each other as we have seen in Bonn, which is very refreshing compared to what we thought we might see a month ago. What will happen if they ever get to Kabul? That was of great concern yet. They got to Kabul. They went in, limited force, most of the force stayed outside, continued fighting outside, and it became stable very quickly. So, that worked out. They are cooperating in ways that we might have not expected. I don't think anybody is thinking about sending their troops in to be garbage collectors.

QUESTION: You said that you've asked embassies to pass the hat, so to speak.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we are looking for help. We are looking for loose change. Let me be little more serious, we looking at our accounts throughout the State Department -- State Department accounts.

QUESTION: You're not asking other governments?

SECRETARY POWELL: Right now I am looking at my own accounts to see what funds I can generate out of my own accounts that might be available, and will also be talking to all of our allied friends and in some cases that will done through Embassy contacts. But I'll be doing a little collection plate banging over the next day or two. I mean, I got everybody in town tomorrow, so I'll make the point to all of them, that 'stand by' because a lot of the units that will be asked... Some of the countries will be sending troops in will need help doing it. They aren't budgeted for it; they don't have the resources. These are expensive operations. So, there may be need to support them. And so all of my colleagues in Europe understand this. So, it isn't going to be a surprise to them. My light line about embassies, we are looking at all of the accounts available.

QUESTION: Will you be looking for other parts of our government as well? Say, Pentagon, say HHS?

SECRETARY POWELL: We will see what the needs are. There are limits to what you can use the different appropriations and other departments for. And, I thought it wise not to speculate about how I might get money from many of my fellow cabinet officers until I have talked to them directly and gotten a direct no. Then we go to work. All right, we're getting dangerous here.

QUESTION: You think UN or NATO would actually take a role in (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: At the moment, I think the UN is in the lead on this. I haven't heard NATO express an interest in that but I've heard some expression that it better not be handled by NATO. Let me take one more before we all --

QUESTION: Karzai is the compromise between Iran and Pakistan. Was there a compromise?

SECRETARY POWELL: Certainly there was a lot of, shall we say informed discussion as to how best to allocate the positions out, and Mr. Karzai, having one, coming from a majority group Pashtun, in the country fighting, with quite a record of service positions, turned out to be a pretty good candidate. I don't have the details of the last night's horse trading.

QUESTION: On statecraft, is the Taliban dead now, have we recognized this new government? When does the UN recognize it?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't -- We have never recognized the Taliban. They are certainly no longer in the capital although I don't think they have any claim on anything any longer. The actual act, do we recognize the interim government as a government, I think I better wait for my experts and the lawyers at the State Department who have to consult all kinds of oracles about such matters, but we will be establishing a presence in Kabul.

QUESTION: When, when, when, when? Within a week?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would guess. I think I already answered this question. I am looking toward the middle of the month.

QUESTION: What would that presence entail?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am not sure what we would call it yet, but it would be a liaison office, and I expect that Jim may well be the one who would go in and help set that office. Don't try to pin me on the details on that yet.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea what the means are or what you really need?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I don't know what their budget requirement is.

QUESTION: You are talking about money just to get the government going?

SECRETARY POWELL: Oh, you are going to need money to get this government going. I mean, first of all the Germans, I am sure, will lend us a plane to get them to Kabul. But there they are and they'll have an immediate need for money, and everybody in town will say great, we got a government supported by the international community. What are you going to do for us? And, all the demands that you would expect a new government to have on it will be placed on this government. So, there will be a need to support them, and I don't know what the numbers are. They are not going to be trivial -- administrative money and then the actual money to run programs.

QUESTION: (inaudible) promise them money if they've gotten together and withholding money (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. I think it was clear to them. I'll answer it this way. I think it was clear to them that it would be very hard to support Afghanistan either with humanitarian or reconstruction aid, unless there was a functioning government. And they were not going to get to that functioning government in one big step, i.e., loya girga or a thousand people coming together. They had to take this first step. Get something in place on the ground for the international community to recognize in some way and then connect with. You have to get the -- There's an old military expression, if you'll forgive me, I don't do this often, but for those of you who have been in the military, the first general order to take charge of this place and all government property in view when you're standing guard. Well we needed somebody to go take charge of this place and all government property in view. And that's what this interim administration does. And then we can build into a broader and more representative government with all that goes with a larger government, and then, finally, elections.

QUESTION: What do you hear from Zinni? And what does Zinni hear from Arafat?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's still a very difficult situation. As you know, another car bomb went off. Fortunately, only a few were injured. The suicide bomber was killed. So Zinni will stay there for the time being, talk to Arafat, go down the same hard messages that we've been putting down all week that action has to be taken. There isn't a basis for him to do much more right now. But I'm not losing hope or giving up. The opportunity that we created a couple of weeks ago, of laying down our markers, getting both sides to put together security committees that we can work with at the senior level and General Zinni's presence. But it will be very hard to move back onto this track without positive action on the part of Chairman Arafat to get the violence way, way down. And to give Prime Minister Sharon, his cabinet and the Israeli people a basis for them to take another look at what they're doing so we can get going. And so, General Zinni is there. He won't stay there forever, but he's there and will remain there for the time being. Thank you.


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